"I was a devil in other countries, and I was a little devil in America, too." Inspired by these few words, spoken by Josephine Baker at the 1963 March on Washington, MacArthur "Genius Grant" Fellow and bestselling author Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. Each moment in every performance he examines--whether it's the twenty-seven seconds in "Gimme Shelter" in which Merry Clayton wails the words "rape, murder," a schoolyard fistfight, a dance marathon, or the instant in a game of spades right after the cards are dealt--has layers of resonance in Black and white cultures, the politics of American empire, and Abdurraqib's own personal history of love, grief, and performance.
Touching on Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Billy Dee Williams, the Wu-Tan Clan, Dave Chappelle, and more, Abdurraqib writes prose brimming with jubilation and pain. With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent. Filled with sharp insight, humor, and heart, A Little Devil in America exalts the Black performance that unfolds in specific moments in time and space--from midcentury Paris to the moon, and back down again to a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio.
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us was named a book of the year by BuzzFeed, Esquire, NPR, O: The Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and Chicago Tribune, among others. His most recent book, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (March 8, 2022)
- Language: English
- Paperback: 320 pages
- ISBN-10: 1984801201
- ISBN-13: 9781984801203
- Item Weight: 8 ounces
- Dimensions: 5.17 x 0.63 x 7.98 inches